This weekend as we were getting ready to go outside to play, Bud approached me with his arms full of toys.
"Mama, can I take my peards outside with us?"
I looked at the things he was carrying - a ball, a hat, a car, a horse, and assorted other toys.
"You want to take those toys outside?"
"Okay," I said, still a bit mystified.
We went outside and Bud dumped the toys in a pile on the picnic table, then grabbed the hat and said, "Come on!"
He ran to the grassy hill beside our house and plunked the hat down with determined purpose. Then he backed up and announced, "One day in Budsland, something appeared from far away! It was a hat!"
It clicked. The grassy hill next to our house has always been Teletubbyland, and one of Bud's favorite Teletubbies scripts is "One day in Teletubbyland, something appeared from far away."
But now that Bud is using less direct echolalia and is mitigating his scripts more and more, he is working to break down the scripts into their component parts. As a result, I am getting even more insight in the ways in which his language development is nontraditional.
I'm not an expert on language development, but it seems to me that most children learn the rules of language as they learn to speak. So even though they don't consciously know they're doing it, as they learn to talk they follow the rule of sentence structure. Sentences have subjects (nouns) and verbs. Even in their very first sentences, Somebody does Something: I go. You go. He/she/it goes.
Not so with Bud, whose earliest sentences were less likely to sound like "I go" than "Oh no! Let's get out of here!"
It seems that most typically developing children also use the rules of grammar in their receptive language, to decode the messages they hear. So they hear "something appeared from far away," and their brains decode automatically: "right - must have subject and verb: something = subject, appeared = verb." Of course, children make mistakes as they learn this process, resulting in some of the hilarious "Kids Say the Darnedest Things"-type quotes. (My favorite example of this is a colleague's daughter who, when reprimanded and told to behave, replied "I'm BEING have!")
But Bud, as a gestalt learner of language, does not decode language the same way. As I posted previously, he has begun to deconstruct his gestalt language into its composite parts, but because he did not acquire language through the use of rules, he doesn't use those rules in the deconstruction.
So while other children hear a traditional sentence with a subject and a verb - "One day in Teletubbyland, something appeared from far away," - it seems Bud hears a headline, a title, an announcement, a declaration:
"One day in Teletubbyland: Something! A peard, from far away!"
So, naturally, when he wants to play this game he needs to gather up his peards.
It makes me wonder - how often does Bud hear things differently, and decode them in this different way? How often does he have to disregard the words themselves and make meaning by reading the context, by determining that this-string-of-words said by this-group-of-people in this-sort-of-circumstance must have this-kind-of-meaning.
My goodness, I think, that must be so difficult! It must be exhausting!
And then, He must be a genius!
But, no. It would be difficult for me. That does not make it universally difficult. And he is very smart - so smart, in fact, that he would not choose to do things in the most difficult way.
My way - the traditional way - is not necessarily the right way.
His way is not even wrong.
It strikes me that there's a parallel between words and people. Words string together to make sentences and paragraphs that express complicated thoughts and ideas. But when you deconstruct them, the thoughts and ideas mean far more than their component parts.
Bud has my eyes and disposition. He has his dad's mouth and love of music.
But he has a mind of his own.